What to Put Under an Air Mattress When Camping (7 Clever Ideas)

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An air mattress is a worthwhile investment that will help you sleep more comfortably when tent camping.

But how can you protect this investment for years to come? And will adding insulation under your mattress provide any benefit?

Let’s learn what to put under an air mattress when camping, its benefits (if any), and more air mattress camping tips!

Let’s jump right in!

What Can I Put Under My Air Mattress When Camping?

Before we jump into what you can put under an air mattress when camping, it’s important to understand why you would want to put anything under it in the first place.

There are two main reasons campers put something between the air mattress and ground:

  1. Protect the air mattress from sharp objects, abrasive ground, and from getting dirty.
  2. Insulate the air mattress from the cold ground.

While adding a layer of protection between the ground and your air mattress is an excellent idea to extend its life, it will not help insulate the air mattress and keep it warm when cold weather camping (below, we show you what does work).

Let’s look at both of these a little bit closer.

How to Protect an Air Mattress While Camping

As stated earlier, putting something between the air mattress and ground can protect it from sharp and abrasive objects, especially if you enjoy camping with a floorless tent.

Air mattresses are designed to be durable, but by their very nature, they are still susceptible to rips, tears, and pokes that can render them useless while out camping.

Tip: Always bring a patch kit along on your camping trip when using an air mattress. Store the patch kit in your air mattress bag, so it’s one less thing to have to remember to bring along.

Air Mattress Patch Kit

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So, when choosing something to put under your air mattress, you need to consider:

  • Portability: If you are hiking or going on a long backpacking trip, you don’t want to carry around something heavy or awkward to carry. However, if you can drive right up to your campsite, it might make sense to have something thicker and more durable to put under your mattress.
  • Thickness: If camping on really uneven ground with a lot of sharp and/or abrasive objects, you may want a thicker, more durable material under your air mattress (and under your tent floor too!). However, if you are beach camping, for example, you might not need anything under your air mattress.
  • Slipperiness: Although this is rarely an issue, you don’t want a material that is so slippery that your air mattress constantly slides off, which could lead to it rubbing on the ground and you having to continually readjust it.

As you can see, the material you should put beneath your air mattress really depends on your camping style, where you plan on camping, and how much weight you can afford to carry.

Here are some clever ideas of what to lay under an air mattress when camping:

  • Tarp: Arguably the lightest, most portable item on this list that offers a good amount of protection from abrasive and some sharp objects. Fits nicely under all size of air mattresses, as well, from twin up to a queen.
  • Outdoor Carpet: A little heavier and not as portable as a tarp, but with added thickness. Plus, its a little more comfortable to walk and sit on.
  • Foam Puzzle Mats: Offer excellent protection against most terrain threats. Plus, they break down for easier portability.
  • Extra Blankets: Packing a few extra blankets for your camping trip has several benefits which include keeping you warm at night, as a layer of protection under your air mattress, etc.
  • Rolling Foam Pad: When you camp on extremely rocky terrain you may need the extra thickness a rolling foam mat will provide. And while they do roll up for ease-of-portability, they are still somewhat heavy and may not be ideal for long excursions.
  • Car Floor Mats: When you’re in a pinch, and you’re able to drive up to your camping spot, placing your SUV or car’s floor mats under your air mattress is a pretty clever camping hack that is very effective.
  • Camping Cot: For the ultimate in comfortability, and air mattress protection, you can place a cot under your air mattress! Of course, if this may not be an option if you need to carry a minimal amount of camping gear, for example, when backpacking or hiking.

Tip: Avoid costly insulating materials like space blankets and Reflectix, as their insulating properties are meaningless when used under your air mattress.

How to Keep an Air Mattress From Getting Cold

As stated above, placing something between the ground and an air mattress, no matter how insulating it is, will not keep the air mattress from getting cold. The air in the mattress will inevitably match the cold air temperature in the tent.

Instead, you need to place insulation between the cold air mattress and you to help you retain your body heat! You can insulate an air mattress for camping with:

And so on. Check out our guide on how to keep an air mattress warm when camping for some quick and effective tips!

What Is the Best Thing to Put Under an Air Mattress When Camping?

The best thing to put under your air mattress when camping is something that provides adequate protection from the terrain you are camping on, and you can easily carry it with you. That could be a tarp, extra blankets, foam puzzle mats, or even your car’s floor mats.

Every camping trip will be different and may warrant a different solution for under air mattress protection.

Should You Use an Air Mattress When Camping?

Air mattresses are a popular choice for campers as they are portable and are an easy way to make sleeping on the ground more comfortable. And with a few simple hacks, you can make an air mattress more comfortable camping than you might have ever imagined.

Air mattresses do have a few downsides, however, as they don’t offer much in terms of insulation and can be damaged fairly easily. Still, these can both be alleviated by providing your own insulation and protection.

With that said, you do have other options if you don’t think an inflatable air bed is a right solution for your camping needs. Camping cots are another popular option that some campers swear by. Check out our camping cot vs. air mattress comparison to see which option is best for you.

Related: Most Comfortable Way to Sleep in a Tent (15 Best Tips)

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